Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review and Giveaway: OWI 7-in-1 Solar Transformers: A Test of Will and Skill

The recharging station changes from truck mode to station mode. 
Your child may have played with Transformers but building one is a different story.

WHAT: 7-in-1 Solar Transformers by OWI
DOES: a build and play set where building is over half the fun; instant kid magnet at the park; car charges don't last long but the cars are fast;  charging by battery takes just seconds; battery charger included
INVEST: $26.95 depending on retailer
TOOLS:  Social Scene Helper, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer
Giveaway Details Below

If my son could have his way, he would buy all the science kits that are made for boys his age.   But the truth is, I don't buy that many for him.  Many science kits on the market today are not very open-ended.  As with some craft kits that many girls may be purchasing, some science kits can also be too "one-note" as Number 5's mom would say.

However, when I saw OWI's 7-in-1 Transformers Kit and saw the video of a little solar car zipping around, I figured if there was any solar kit that sang more than one note, this would be it.

But when we got it, I made a conclusion about my knowledge of science kits.

I love how the numbers are right there next to the pieces.  It coincides with the directions. 

The instructions are quite clear but still complex so I don't recommend this for the little ones (under 6). 

Conclusion: I know nothing.  In fact, I was actually missing a huge part of the wealth of this kit and perhaps of many science kits.  Now that I see this set, I know for certain what is its strength for us at least. The solar aspect is quite cool but it's actually the building part that I loved the most.

I watched my son as he sat there engaged for almost two hours.  Carefully following the pictorial instructions which one should not mistake as easy.  You really have to pay attention and look closely.  It's meant for ages 10+ but my son is eight and he did great.  I think perhaps a seven year old with good visual-spatial skills should be able to tackle this too.

Watch this video to see how the cars change form.

Do you remember what models looked like?  Not the runway kind but those plastic models that boys used to do "back in the day"?  This kit reminds me a little of that except this time, there are solar panels!  The models of yesteryear were a challenge to build but then sort of sat there until your mom threw it away.  This kit may not contain as much of that challenge because you can surely finish it on the same day however, you can really play with it afterwards - a huge plus for us.

It looks simple but the directions are showing the colors of the wire and orientation of the plug.  It really rewards you for paying attention.  I like that for my kid.

The building part was not terribly easy nor terribly hard.  I found that I needed to help just a little bit.  He did have some trouble here and there and he found those challenges exciting.  They required some mental manipulation as the way one does with math and I reminded him that he got as far as he did because he works so hard at math and building constructions with his toys.  I felt good for all the days I let him sit there and play with his Legos.  With this set, you can see what your child can really do and all that he has learned through play. 

The name of this kit says "transformers" but only two of the seven modes really "transform" in a similar manner to the popular toy robots.  However, the kit does possess true interchangeability.  You basically are building and interchanging parts which I find less frustrating but requiring children to be careful at the same time.  See the video above on exactly how a child can change from one car to another - it's pretty easy but not boring-easy!

  Seeing my son build this way makes me think he may be ready for those complicated models.

Of course, you have to attempt building this on a sunny day.  But the kit does actually have two ways to charge the cars (battery and solar).  I like that because it's hard to get good sun on some days, especially in the winter.  (You can use halogen light though).  But do try to take it outside.  Your child will become a kid magnet in the park so prepare your child in advance to be polite in reminding others to be gentle and most of all, not to block the sun!  Chances are, it will be a new way to find more friends on the playground one day, especially if your kid isn't into more active play.

Unlike other kits, this kit really doesn't give you a rundown on how solar energy works and that's really okay with me.  They give little suggestions on how long you have to charge something on a cloudy day and that is good enough.  In terms of scientific play, if you can get your child's creative juices flowing, you'll find that he can figure out how to make his car go around in a circle (keep front wheels in a turned position).  You can also have him use the paper ramp that comes with the toy or see if you can make it perform on other toys at home including car tracks!  Not all the tests have to be about solar energy.  It's still a car and it is fast!

Ends 7/31/12 12:01 AM EST
Open to continental 48 states only.
Please make sure you follow the directions.
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Additional Details: Don't throw out the box.  The box has a lot of info about how much to charge the vehicles depending on how sunny it is.  Additionally, you can take part of the box and turn it into a ramp using ramp structure pieces included.

Last Tip: If your child ends up not playing with his kit after a while, you might want to try telling him that it is time to give it away.  This usually sparks creativity in my child.  I know it is a little evil but sometimes abundance of toys can have a negative affect in my home so I like to counter that with a dose of reality "This house is not a museum.  If you don't play. It doesn't stay."

Can't wait for the giveaway... buy from Amazon through my link!

In case you're wondering.... Toys are Tools is not compensated in any fashion by the manufacturer of the product that is being reviewed.  To facilitate the review, Toys are Tools was given the product by the company.  Reviews are never promised. The giveaway item is being supplied by OWI.  Thank you so much OWI!


  1. the moonwalker looks really cool. what does it do? http://www.owirobot.com/moonwalker-ii-1/

  2. This is a brilliant looking toy. I think it would be too frustrating for my guy as he doesn't have the fine motor control to handle the small parts. So I would end up putting it together (like I do a lot of his Legos) but he would have fun playing with it.

  3. Their salt water fuel cell toys are very cool! I would love to see you review the Arachnid
    What a great form of energy to learn about

  4. Looks like another awesome solar power project. Maybe I need to look at that snap circuits solar powered car again too!

  5. Thanks! You are the second person to mention snap circuits to me today!

  6. Andy, This is an interesting choice. We've never done salt water before. Thanks!

  7. I didn't know this was a solar toy--my daughter will love this! She has a thing for solar panels.

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